Category Archives: Arab-Israeli Conflict

Rethinking the Political Meme, Right-Left-Wing: Call for Papers

One hears often the complaint that “right and left” are not good terms for describing and categorizing various thinkers in today’s world. But all the complaints barely make a dent in the widespread use of this dichotomy as a key to identifying the “players” in today’s public sphere: journals, public intellectuals, academic fields, politicians, movements, NGOs, think-tanks, are all labeled along a continuum with such nodal identifiers as far- or center- right/left.

Indeed a peculiar dynamic has taken shape over the last two decades: a kind of western “narcissism of small differences,” between right and left wing in which each speaks of the other in strident terms and limits any serious discussion with the other,on the one hand, and the application of left and right to political cultures where they have no possible corresponding meaning, on the other hand. When, 2006, Judith Butler acknowledged that Hamas and Hizbullah, two groups of the most regressive religious zealots, were part of the “global progressive left,” she rendered the term meaningless. Or so one would think. And yet, right and left continue to be used extensively to identify and either include or exclude some voice in the public sphere.

Whatever the problems involved beforehand, in the 21st century, the designations “right” and “left” as they are used, have become a polemical shorthand that dis-informs, rather than informs. Part of this relates to sociability patterns in which “left” and “right” wingers hang together, and view the other as of questionable legitimacy. Readers who accept the labels right and left as indicators of the reliability of the source, tend to dismiss writings labeled the “other side,” as biased and propagandistic. The mutual ostracism that “right” and “left” have accomplished has an increasingly deleterious impact on the discussion in the public sphere.

One of the places where this impact has been most deleterious is in our ability to think about the Muslim and Arab world, the source of some of the most regressive religious forces on the planet, in its most extreme form, a millennial vision of world conquest. And yet despite how much the values of Islamism contradict progressive principles, the closest allies that Jihadis have, in the Western public sphere that they plan to take over, are people self-consciously identified as “the global progressive left.” Judith Butler’s defense of that alliance emphasized the shared bond of anti-imperialism. Dubbed the “anti-imperialism of fools,” by Michael Totten, this leftist embrace of Jihadi groups brought some of the most ferocious imperialists on the planet into the allegedly “anti-imperialist” camp.

Back in the aughts, the irony of siding with imperialists in an “anti-imperial” struggle, might escape a viewer unfamiliar with, say, Muqtada al Sadr’s messianic sadism:

denver al sadr

Democratic National Convention, Denver Colorado, 2008

Today, the contradiction is no longer even hidden:

anti-imperial caliphate

Global Caliphate for Dummies.con

Apocalyptic and Gratuitous Hatreds: The Revival of Jew Hatred in the 21st Century

The following is an only slightly edited version of my farewell lecture at Boston University, April 27, 2015.

The essay is only partially linked. As I reread it, I see numerous jumps in reasoning which make it a difficult read. It in some ways runs the gamut of my research, putting together apocalyptic types, honor-shame, zero- vs. positive-sum, and the huge dilemma we’re in today, where we can’t talk about the most serious threat to global peace (not kidding), and instead, we talk endlessly about the flaws of the Jews, individually and collectively.

Apocalyptic and Gratuitous Hatreds:

The Revival of Jew Hatred in the 21st Century

The rabbis attribute the destruction of the Second Temple to sinat chinam, causeless, or gratuitous hatred between Jews. The most elaborate example used to illustrate the point, tells the story of the confusion of a certain a-Kamtza, an invited guest to a wedding, and Bar Kamza, the mistakenly invited man whom the host dislikes intensely. The host, discovering Bar Kamtza at his feast, demands he leave, and refuses to relent even when Bar Kamtza offers to pay for the full feast. Angry and resentful, Bar Kamtza plots to use the Romans to take vengeance, not only against the host, but the rabbis who stood about and did not intervene while he was being unbearably humiliated. Deeply knowledgeable about both the halacha and the proclivities of its interpreters, and determined to take vengeance, Bar Kamtza sets off a chain of events that ultimately led Rome to destroy the Temple.

Josephus, the historian, tells a different tale. Although it failed, that failure was hardly fore-ordained, and had it succeeded, it would rank as the first successful blow against the juggernaut of Roman hegemony that dominated the previous centuries of Mediterranean history. In Josephus’ account, there were plenty of hatreds, and some – like the Zealots who burned the besieged city’s supplies – clearly contributed to the failure of the Jewish revolt. In historical terms, Josephus is both more embedded in events, and confirmed by outside sources which show a vast range of prophetic/messianic behavior among individuals acting before receptive crowds. Far from gratuitous, the passions that drove the Jewish Revolt might best be considered apocalyptic: in other words, for the participants, the things at stake in these hatreds, were cosmic; this was the final battle.

These believers, whom I call roosters, who live in apocalyptic time, in the certainty that the culmination of history is underway, can behave at once enthusiastically and self-destructively, like the Xhosa in what became South Africa in the mid-19th century. Told by an adolescent girl to slaughter their cattle in preparation for redemption, many Xhosa, including their greatest chief slaughtered their precious herds in anticipation, and each time that anticipation disappointed, they killed even more systematically. They followed this pattern of doubling down so determinedly that they went from voluntary sacrifice (believers killing their own cattle) into coercive purity (killing the cattle of non-believers). In the end, they slaughtered hundreds of thousands of cattle, and tens of thousands of Xhosa starved.[i]

Salem on the Thames: What Connecticut College’s Andrew Pessin Affair Teaches Us.

Salem on the Thames:

What Connecticut College’s Andrew Pessin Affair Teaches Us.

[A briefer version of this article has been published at American Interest.]

Academics like to think of themselves as autonomous thinkers. Academia – literally the protected realm of free speech – give professors enormous privileges, not only the right to speak their minds, but also not to lose their livelihood by displeasing those more powerful. Few members of even developed democracies enjoy the exceptional privileges of freedom given to academics: to speak out, dissent, criticize, to “speak truth to power” with relative impunity. Try getting such individuated folks to all toe one line? Try herding cats.

The very fact that civil polities treasure such safe spaces for free speech, attests to their progressive bona fides. Historically, power elites suffocate dissent; yet modern democracies invest heavily in a free academy. Especially in our times, when new social networks can turn ominously feral, one might hope that academics and their institutions, especially small face-to-face communities, could return that investment and resist such anonymous, predatory, crowd behavior.

The Pessin Affair, Connecticut College Spring Semester 2015

And yet, this is precisely what appears to have happened this last semester at Connecticut College where, for two months, a controversy turned campus life upside down. Active participants saw it as a time of mobilization, deepening and enlarging the inclusively excellent community, a revolutionary time of courage, commitment and democratic reform. Others, mostly outsiders and (rare) internal critics, saw it differently: Pessin was a scapegoat sacrifice. And sure enough, the incident begs out for a Girardian analysis of the sacred violence at the origin of all primitive religious solidarity. Kill an arbitrary, surrogate victim, a scapegoat, and create solidarity among the guilty survivor-participants. Of course, being a post-modern sacrifice, there was no blood.

Radical Thoughts on Fighting BDS

I was just on a panel at the IDC Herzliya Conference about BDS and Europe. [My remarks made to the panel treated BDS as a cogwar campaign to destroy Israel, one of the most coveted desires of the apocalyptic millennial set (and many other Arabs and Muslims, alas).]

This is the second such discussion I’ve been in (the previous one, on Wednesday past is here in French), and below are some of the thoughts they both have inspired.

If Others Think It’s Our Fault, It Is.

People who identify themselves as “left” consistently pooh-pooh the problem on the one hand, and then turn around to say, “and if we [Israel] weren’t so bad, if our behavior didn’t seem so close to South African apartheid, then we wouldn’t be having these problems.” So on the one hand, “it’s not a big deal,” and on the other hand, “it’s our fault.”

Of course what they mean by “our fault,” is not their fault, but the “right’s” fault – Bibi, Hotovely, Bennett, the settlements, the occupation, and any other Israeli action that provokes anger among outsiders, whether they be Arab or Western. “As long as the ‘right’ keeps talking and acting the way it does, it’s impossible to win the fight against BDS. If we uprooted the settlements, then the BDS advocates wouldn’t find so sympathetic an audience.” To paraphrase Roland Freudenstein, a foreign panelist, most sympathetic to Israel, “explain and defend everything you do, including the wall, including the occupation. But building settlements?!? Seriously, Settlements?!”

As for disagreements with figures like Obama and Kerry, their perception, even if false, trumps our sense of reality. One Israeli panelist at the IDC actually dismissed the Levy Commission’s ruling on the legality of the settlements, by invoking Ban Ki Moon, “certainly no anti-Semite” (and also, no lawyer). The invocation of Moon was not about legal reasoning, but about international perception. If that’s the way the world thinks, don’t fight it. If the world sees the settlements as an illegal move that prevents peace, then it’s up to Israel to bend. As one of my (former) colleagues once said to me during the early years of the intifada, “I support Israel, but Sharon! ShaRON!.”

The situation, as I see it, is the opposite. It’s not the right that’s responsible for the loss to BDS, but the progressive left, which should have won this particular battle against the demonization of Israel handily. Indeed, the attitude of submission that it argues we Israelis should take – if the “vast majority” (apparently a favorite meme in more than one place) believes we shouldn’t have settlements, then so be it – is the reason why progressives have folded in the face of aggressive Islamist demands. 

Student Email to Pessin Describes SGA Meeting of March 26

In this student email to Pessin, a member of the Student Government Association describes how the body was pressured into throwing out procedure and rushing through a condemnation of Pessin. Later, Aparna Gopalian, editor of opinion page of College Voice and member of the SGA, reflected on how successfully they bent that body to their activist will.

Student Account of GSA, March 26

Richard Landes, “Antisemitism’s Fatal Attraction: The Global Progressive Left, the Jihadi Right And Israel” March 30, 2015

Richard Landes,“Antisemitism’s Fatal Attraction: The Global Progressive Left, the Jihadi Right And Israel…” from ISGAP on Vimeo.

Seminar Series:
Antisemitism in Comparative Perspective

“Antisemitism’s Fatal Attraction: The Global Progressive Left, the Jihadi Right And Israel as the 21st Century Antichrist”

Richard Landes
Department of History,
Boston University

Monday, March 30, 2015, 5:30PM
ISGAP Center, 3rd Floor

Nuggets from the Pessin Affair: For Inclusiveness against Essentializing

As those following this blog know, I’ve been uploading documents on the Pessin Affair, a remarkable and terrifying moment when Connecticut College became Salem on the Thames.

As I sift through the evidence, the arguments employed by faculty when discussing the issue offer interesting insights into the kind of discourses that allowed the public sphere in the college be seized by cognitive Jihadis, driving an entire university community, with only the dimmest awareness of what they were doing, to conduct a human sacrifice in the name of inclusivity. Post modern shades of Rene Girard’s theory of sacrifice.

One of the memes much in use is that of the “equality of all cultures.” What this allegedly multi-cultural sentiment actually means in practice, however, is a dogmatic projection of a Western culture which has, by and large, renounced violence, encouraged individuality and diversity, and chosen to resolve disputes through public discussion. Combined with “moral equivalence,” this notion of cultural equality permits critics to equate acts that have vastly different moral and cultural settings and meanings.

This projection, which had something of a dogmatic sanctity to it, operated on two critical planes during the Pessin episode, granting to the “hurt students” all respect and concern for their feelings, despite the fact that they tendentiously interpreted Pessin’s remarks, and were “coming from a place” of war and not peace.

On a second plane, it operated to equate Israeli/Jewish culture and Palestinian/Muslim. Following up on comments outlining the wide range of beliefs and attitudes within the variegated Jewish community (i.e., opening up a place for Jewish colleagues to dissent from Pessin’s tone and opinions), a colleague insisted that everyone also should acknowledge the same for

… the much larger populations of Arab and non-Arab Muslims and Arab Christians worldwide who are nearly as diverse in their political and religious affiliations as culture itself. We must take care not to conflate these groups or essentialize them in our social / political / religious discourse.

Would this were true. On the contrary, the near-total homogeneity of the 1.6 billion Muslims on the planet when it comes to the political issue of Israel is nothing short of astonishing. There is vastly more variety of political opinion about the Arab-Israeli conflict, openly expressed, in .2% of the global population (12 million Jews), than there is in almost 20% of the global population (1.6 billion Muslims) about Israel. If this astonishing uniformity of opinion is a form of “essentializing,” then Muslims essentialize themselves by peer pressure and policing the narrow borders of dissent with violence, both state- and sect- driven.

Ironically, this professor’s advice not to conflate or essentialize contradicts his empirical assertions: he conflates Muslim and Jewish culture as “equally diverse in political matters,” and thus fails to understand the very dynamics that make this  conflict so adamantine.

Some Recent Videos of Richard Landes

 

 

At an Anti-BDS Conference at University of Baltimore Law School organized by SPME, April 27, 2015:

 

At BU Conference on Apocalyptic Jihad, May 4, 2015:

 

 

Sur I24 News (français): Débat sur le BDS avec Marius Schattner, Dror Even Sapir, et moi. Hôte: Jean-Charles Banoun.

Pessin Archive: Faculty Dissent, Spencer Pack, March 29

I publish this with permission from Spencer Pack.

From: Spencer Pack <[email protected]>
Date: Sun, Mar 29, 2015 at 10:24 AM
Subject: [faculty] On Some Recent Faculty Statements
To: faculty <[email protected]>

To my colleagues in the economics department, and throughout the college at large:  my Statement on the Recent Faculty Statements; or, why I will not sign a variant of one of these statements.

Here is my most important objection to the recent faculty statements.

I think in the main, the current flood of faculty responses and statements have been kneejerk politically correct platitudes  demonstrating insufficient thought about the complexity of the current situation. They are below the standards that I expect from my colleagues at Connecticut College;  most of my colleagues are exercising extremely poor judgment.

Some of the complexities of the current situation which need much further thought include the following:

  1. The Facebook postings of summer 2014 were written during war. Thus, the current situation is largely about war; and globalization; and the blowback from globalization of various wars; and what people think and do and say in war (here contributions from the history department could be valuable).
  1. The current situation is about class/and labor relations; it is partly an attack on tenure; and is part of a larger attack on labor unions, workers’ organizations, and the middle class in America; and it is partly about collegiality and worker solidarity; or the lack thereof.
  1. It is about changes in the means of communications; what is appropriate on social media; also who controls the settings on electronic communication; and how; for some historical comparison: what was the role of the printing press in the ensuing century or two of religious wars? How does that compare to the internet and current hostilities? Here people should consider the  work of the great Canadian economic historian Harold Innis, his follower Marshall McLuhan, and the work the Toronto school of communications.

Follow up on Proxy Honor Killings: Response to Peter Sage

In response to my post on Jewish anti-Zionism as a proxy honor-killing, Peter Sage wrote the following request for clarification.

So please help me see a way out of the current blind alley. If we have a one state solution then we will have, immediately or soon, an Arab majority and you are certain this means that Jews will be oppressed by the popular will of that majority. (I agree this is a valid concern.)

The mere fact that you need to reassure me that you grant the concern indicates how far removed from reality much of the public discourse has become. It’s kind of like a “no duh.”

The current alternative are Jews in power in Israel holding military/police power of occupied territory of stateless non-citizens.

Well, since Oslo, if they’re stateless non-citizens, it’s because their ruling elite, who have full control of most elements of a working state – education, police, communication, licensing, health, elections, administration – have seen fit to run their fiefdom as mafia-land. It’s not Israel’s fault they’re, like their political cousins in Gaza, “one man, one vote, one time” democracies.

This has gone on for a half century. The result has been discord within the society.

Which society, Israel? Of course. Given that it’s a democracy, committed to the basic rules of egalitarian power holding – do not do onto others what you would not want done to you – or, more colloquially, live and let live, Israelis all find this situation painful. Most of us, even at great sacrifice, would be happy to give it up. It’s just that the alternatives are much worse, right now.

Indeed, looking at other examples of places where an ethnic group is held in a subservient position (British Colonies prior to 1776; enslaved blacks in America; Jim Crow/Black Codes post Civil War America; European treatment of Native Americans 1492 through independence; Japanese occupation of China 1938-45; German treatment of Jews 1933-45; apartheid in South Africa) has worked out badly.

Wow! That’s quite a list there. Aside from the case of the British colonies in America, most of them are particularly nasty. The sin, as it were, of oppression lays heavily on the shoulders of the identifiable oppressors. Although no comparison to the Israeli-Palestinian case works really well, given the unique aspects of this case of conflict, all of these (except the British/American one) illustrate the most heinous behavior on the part of the oppressor of the “subservient” (in pomo-poco terms: subaltern).

Jewish anti-Zionism: The proxy honor-killing

Available in Polish, translated by Malgorzata Koraszewska here.

The recent stunning performance of Marcia Freedman at the J-Street conference, calling for a one-state solution (almost surely not called Israel), in which an Arab majority would fiercely defend the rights of a protected Jewish minority, heartily applauded by an audience of alleged “pro-Israel, pro-Peace” attendees, has once again raised the question sent to me by someone who saw The J-Street Challenge:

WHY do J Street activists take these positions that they know are destructive to Israel’s chances for survival? 

Obviously, the easy way to answer is to claim they don’t realize the destructive nature of their “plan for peace.” Certainly this would hold for Ms. Freedman, who apparently believes that once Israel becomes a “true democracy [applause]” (whatever that means), that Jews won’t need to maintain control of the levers of power, since that now truly democratic “state” would secure the rights of the Jews no matter who was in power (e.g., an Arab majority).

Only someone struck with terminal cecity could not notice that beyond Israel’s borders, Arab majorities rarely protect the rights of minorities, especially those they feel threaten them. The notion that 2000 years of determined victimization of Jews without sovereignty means nothing, and that somehow an Arab majority would “fiercely defend the rights of the Jewish minority,” such ideas defy the reality-based social and political imagination. Freedman’s speech, so totally divorced from the all-too-human reality of this part of the world, gives us a sterling example of the vapid moral angélisme that animates so many anti-Zionist Jews.

[For those not convinced that J-Street pursues suicidal policies for the polity it professes to “love” – withdraw to ’67 borders as an unreciprocated concession – I’ve written about this elsewhere.]

Here I’d like to address my correspondent’s well-posed question by slightly rephrasing it:

Why do Jews identify with and promote Palestinian lethal narratives about Israel, and ally with, encourage, and promote groups who openly desire the destruction of Israel, even as they assure us (M.F. style) that we have nothing to fear from them?

In a word, I think they’re engaged in a long-term, proxy, honor-killing.

Does Burston really think it’s legitimate to view BDS as Tikkun Olam?

[I re-post this item from 2010 after having attended a meeting at Temple Israel, a Reform Synagogue in Boston last night where J-Street and NIF talked us blue from their tikkun bubble chamber.]

A good friend sent me the following piece by Bradley Burston with the comment: “It expresses how I feel.” I find it so pervasively flawed that I have difficulty taking it seriously. But if my friend can (and he’s one of the smartest people I know), then I have to, and it does raise, however poorly, a whole range of key issues. So, with great reluctance (because there are more interesting texts to sink one’s teeth into), I fisk below.

First, a brief introductory note: One of the key contentions of Burston and the people he likes (J-Street, Jewish Voices for Peace, Young Jews for Peace, etc.) is that a) they love Israel and b) they know the best way to peace which, since Israel won’t take that path, they must force upon her. Now all these groups locate along the “left” political spectrum differently. NIF disapproves of BDS but funds groups who do; J-Street disapproves of  BDS even if they associate with people who do; Jewish Voices for Peace and Emily Schaeffer (below) support BDS in many forms.

Whatever the details, each of these groups believes that they must pressure Israel to leave the occupied territories out of a combination of moral passion – the Israel they love should set a moral example to the world – and peaceful intentions – they know their formula for peace will work.

Now some people, myself included, see the situation very differently. On moral matters, howevermuch we may share concerns about the occupation and dominion over another people harms both Palestinians and Israelis, we have difficulty with a moral equivalence, that ends up as a moral inversion, with the profound condescension and bigotry it involves in its abysmally low standards for the Palestinians, and the inversely exacting standards to which it holds Israel. The result – people, Jews! – for whom Israel is the new Nazi. And even as such people are morally reckless in their accusations of Israel, they echo and reinforce genocidal hatreds among the most base of the enemies of the Jews.

On the practical level, many of us feel that while making concessions and apologizing is a splendid way to begin a process of reconciliation, that only works in cases where the other side also seeks resolution, and responds in kind. In some cases, conflicts are not only unresponsive to such an approach, but literally allergic: rather than a peace process it produces a war process. Indeed, given how often and consistently Palestinian (and more broadly Arab) leaders have seized upon Israeli concessions to press for more and on Israeli confessions to reaffirm a demonizing narrative, it’s dubious that under the best of circumstances, Palestinian political players would respond to an Israeli withdrawal to the ’67 borders with a shift to peace.

On the contrary, any such move most likely will strengthen those in the Palestinian camp who argue that any withdrawal should be part of a “Phased plan” to destroy Israel and use any and every pretext to keep the war alive. Any observer who dismisses even this possibility – the favorite line is either, “you’re paranoid,” or “oh, you think they only understand violence.” – is either in ignorance or denial of the discourse that prevails in Palestinian political culture today.

And so, if under the best of conditions withdrawing to the ’67 lines could backfire, how much the more likely that the voices of attack will grow louder if Israel finds itself compelled as a result of becoming the object of universal execration (BDS) and pressure from its only powerful ally, the United States, to withdraw. The naïveté of such a formula is only matched by the aggressiveness with which it gets implemented. A formula for war: si vis bellum para pacem.

The fact that groups can argue that the US should force Israel to make these concessions without any serious discussion of the necessary massive reciprocity from Palestinians (especially when it comes to incitement to hatred and violence), raises serious doubts among many about their realism, and given their recklessness in insisting that virtually any means to get there are legitimate, it raises for us serious doubts about their responsibility.

As far as I can make out, Burston has no idea what I’m talking about. He’s like the New Yorker cartoon of a Manhattanite’s view of the USA. When he looks at the landscape of this debate, all he sees are him and his like-minded friends “doing the right thing,” while the opposition is at the other end of the spectrum – messianic rabbis and their neo-con partners who will not part with an inch of the land, even if God himself told them to do so. And nothing in between.

He encases his simplistic dualism in the antimony “Jews of the Gate” vs. “Jews of the Wall.” This fisking comes from someone who thinks that both of his categories are poorly conceived; and that the real issues are entirely different from the ones upon which he focuses.

Thanksgiving, Tikkun Olam, and U.S. Jews breaking the Israel barrier By Bradley Burston

[Part 2 of a series on U.S. Jews emotionally divesting from Israel. In part, a journal of a recent West Coast speaking tour hosted by J Street]

Norah: It reminds me of this part of Judaism that I really like. It’s called Tikkun Olam. It says that the world is broken into pieces, and that it’s everybody’s job to find them and put them back together again.

Nick: Well, maybe we’re the pieces. And maybe we’re not supposed to find the pieces. Maybe we are the pieces. “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” (Columbia Pictures, 2008)

It’s hard not to read this as a spoof of the trivial use to which a mystical concept like tikkun olam has been put in new “new-age” spirituality. Not having seen the movie, I don’t know if this is an homage to “Deep Thoughts,” but Burston seems to offer them up as his credo. Indeed, Nick’s version – people! – stands behind the full line-up of comments he makes throughout this piece. So it’s probably worth a short comment on this deep and now deeply problematic notion that has set our moral compasses awry in the 21st century.

#GenerationCaliphate: Apocalyptic Hopes, Millennial Dreams and Global Jihad

#GenerationCaliphate: 

Apocalyptic Hopes, Millennial Dreams and Global Jihad

May 3-4, 2015, Boston University

Sponsored by the Center for Millennial Studies, Boston University History Department and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.

Most Westerners associate the terms apocalyptic and millennial (millenarian) with Christian beliefs about the endtime. Few even know that Muhammad began his career as an apocalyptic prophet predicting the imminent Last Judgment. And yet, for the last thirty years, a wide-ranging group of militants, both Sunni and Shi’i, both in coordination and independently, have, under the apocalyptic belief that now is the time, pursued the millennial goal of spreading Dar al Islam to the entire world. In a manner entirely in keeping with apocalyptic beliefs, but utterly counter-intuitive to outsiders, these Jihadis see the Western-driven transformation of the world as a vehicle for their millennial beliefs, or, to paraphrase Eusebius on the relationship between the Roman Empire and Christianity: Praeparatio Califatae.

The apocalyptic scenario whereby this global conquest takes place differs from active transformative (the West shall be conquered by Da’wa [summons]) to active cataclysmic (bloody conquest). Western experts have until quite recently, for a wide range of reasons, ignored this dimension of the problem. And yet, understanding the nature of global Jihad in terms of the dynamics of apocalyptic millennial groups may provide an important understanding, both to their motivations, methods, as well as their responses to the inevitable disappointments that await all such believers. The now defunct Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University (1996-2003) brings to the public one final conference on apocalyptic beliefs, co-sponsored by the BU History Department and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME).

This event is free and open to the public.

Schedule

Sunday, May 3

10:00-12:00 Introduction:

  • Richard Landes, “Globalization as a Millennial Praeparatio Califatae: A Problematic Discussion”
  • William McCants, Brookings Institute: “ISIS and the Absent Mahdi: Studies in Cognitive Dissonance and Apocalyptic Jazz”
  • Graeme Wood, Yale University, Atlantic Monthly: “On the Resistance to seeing Global Jihad as Apocalyptic Movement”

 12:00-1:30 Break for Lunch

 1:30-3:30 Panel II: The Millennial Goal: Global Caliphate

  • Timothy Furnish, “”Rejecting Millennial Time: The Ottoman Empire’s 700-year War against Mahdism in its Realm.”
  • Cole Bunzel, Princeton: “From Apocalypse Now to Caliphate Now: Revisiting Juhayman al-‘Utaybi’s Siege of Mecca in 1979″
  • Jeffrey M. Bale, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, “Refusing to Take Islamist Ideology Seriously: The Persistence of Western ‘Mirror Imaging’ and Ideological Double Standards”
  • Comments: Charles Cameron

4:00-5:30 Panel III: Case Studies in Apocalyptic Jihad

  • David Cook, Rice University: “ISIS and Boko Haram: Profiles in Apocalyptic Jihad”
  • JM Berger, Brookings Institute, “The role of communications Technology in mediating apocalyptic communities”
  • Mehdi Khalaji, Washington Institute of Near East Policy: “Apocalyptic Revolutionary Politics in Iran”

Monday, May 4

10:0-12:00 Panel IV: Conspiracy Theory and Apocalyptic Genocide

  • Itamar Marcus, Palestinian Media Watch, “Anti-Semitism, Conspiracy Theory and Apocalyptic Global Jihad
  • Charles Small, “Ideology and Antisemitism:  Random Acts or a Core Element of the Reactionary Islamist Global Jihad?”
  • Richard Landes, BU, “Active Cataclysmic Apocalyptic Scenarios, Demonizing and Megadeath: Taiping, Communists, Nazis, and Jihadis.”
  • Comments: David Redles

  12:00-1:30 Break for Lunch 

 1:30-4:00 Final Panel Discussion

Paul Berman, Independent Scholar

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Independent Scholar

Husain Haqqani, Hudson Institute

Charles Strozier, John Jay College

Brenda Brasher, Tulane University

*All events will take place in the Stone Science Building (645 Commonwealth Ave), room B50

Been up so long it looks like down to me: Garry Trudeau and punching down at Jihadis

On April 10 at the Long Island University’s George Polk Awards ceremony, where he received the George Polk Career Award, Garry Trudeau, the beloved author of the Doonsbury cartoons, delivered the following remarks which appeared in the Atlantic Monthly. In it he criticizes the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo for “punching down.” The core of his argument, fisked below.

Ironically, Charlie Hebdo,which always maintained it was attacking Islamic fanatics, not the general population, has succeeded in provoking many Muslims throughout France to make common cause with its most violent outliers. This is a bitter harvest.

The implication here is that the attack on the Jihadis was responsible for this “common cause,” an attribution of causation that will play a critical role in the subsequent analysis. Nothing here questions what is wrong with French Muslims that criticism of their most extreme and violent co-religionists, the one’s who insist that Muhammad cannot be drawn, can drive the “vast majority of moderate Muslims” who have nothing in common with these (not real) Muslims, to nonetheless make common cause with hate-mongering genocidal maniacs. It’s classic Masochistic Omnipotence Syndrome (MOS): it’s all our fault, if only we didn’t provoke them, they wouldn’t hate us so.

There’s a bitter harvest, alright, and much of it comes from this kind of Western supremacist thinking that puts all moral responsibility on the West, and makes no moral demands of Muslims, including the rather basic one – for a civil society at least – of dealing with criticism like mentsches instead of hysterical, testosteronic teenagers.

Traditionally, satire has comforted the afflicted while afflicting the comfortable. Satire punches up, against authority of all kinds, the little guy against the powerful. Great French satirists like Molière and Daumier always punched up, holding up the self-satisfied and hypocritical to ridicule. Ridiculing the non-privileged is almost never funny—it’s just mean.

By punching downward, by attacking a powerless, disenfranchised minority with crude, vulgar drawings closer to graffiti than cartoons, Charlie wandered into the realm of hate speech, which in France is only illegal if it directly incites violence.

Fatal Attraction: The shared antichrist of the Global Progressive Left and Jihad

The following is the text of a talk I gave at ISGAP last week.

Imagine all the people…

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace…

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one… (John Lennon, 1971)

And now,

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Something to kill and die for

And one religion too

Imagine all the people

Living under our peace…

You may say we’re dreamers

But we’re not the only ones… (Jihadi Joe, 2000)

Welcome to the 21st century.

The Jihadi Apocalyptic Narrative: World Conquest and the Great and Little Satan

Despite the spectacular attacks on the West, most Westerners have little familiarity[1] with the Jihadi narrative, a narrative first revealed in Khoumeini’s Iran.[2] It varies significantly in some ways from traditional Muslim apocalyptic thought, which focused on a Last Judgment at the end of the world. Instead, this apocalyptic scenario focuses on a this-wordly messianic era, envisioned as the global victory of Islam: when all of Dar al Harb becomes Dar al Islam.[3] Those who join this movement fight in an apocalyptic battle in which the Jews will be slaughtered, and the rest of the harbi, would convert, accept the dhimma contract of submission (religions of the book), or become slaves (pagans), or being put to death[4]: a “Second Global Islamic Kingdom,”[5] only this time, really encompassing the whole world. In the battle, no mercy should be shown to those who resist Islam’s dominion. Everything to kill and die for: suicide martyrs goes straight to heaven; their victims, straight to hell.

Professor Pessin’s Facebook Entry on Operation Protective Edge, August 11, 2014

A complicated but telling development in the cognitive wars, from Connecticut College. For the details, see at Slate and NPR. The controversy has focused on the following facebook entry from August 11, 2014, at the height of last summer’s war in Gaza.

I’m sure someone could make a cartoon of this, but one image which essentializes the current situation in Gaza might be this. You’ve got a rabid pit bull chained in a cage, regularly making mass efforts to escape. The owner, naturally keeps the thing in the cage, but being kind-hearted or something, regularly feeds it, waters it, takes care of its health needs, etc. But liberal hearted world is outraged at the cruelty of keeping in in the cage, keeps pressuring the owner to let it out. Every so often the man relents under pressure, opens the cage a crack, and the pit bull comes roaring bounding out, snarling, going for the throat. A short battle ensues, the pit bull gets put back in… and almost immediately liberal world pressure starts complaining about the cruelty to animals and insisting he open the cage.

Gaza is the cage because of its repeated efforts to destroy Israel and the Jews. (1990s suicide buses anyone? how quickly we forget.) The blockade is not the cause of the current conflict. It is the RESULT of the conflict and cannot retroactively become its cause. The same is true of Judea and Samaria, the result of the Arab enmity toward Israel and not its cause. Anyone who fails to recognize that clear and obvious fact is demanding the release of a rabid pit bull. You may call for this release because you are yourself a rabid pit bull protesting your co-specimen’s detention, or because you are a well-meaning liberal hearted animal rights person. But you are demanding the same thing. (And I wonder how heartily you’d demand this if the rabid pit bull was to be released in YOUR neighborhood.)

Andrew Pessin, Professor of Philosophy at Connecticut College, August 11, 2014, Facebook entry later taken down in the face of misinterpretation, transcribed by me.

The reading of this promoted by Pessin’s vocal critics, in which he meant that the Palestinians are the pit bull which by the logic of his image, Pessin agreed in a later exchange, needed to be “put down,” making this an odious example of “racist hate speech,” is contentious to put it mildly.

As Pessin noted in his defense, read the discussion in which he was participating and it’s clear he’s talking about Hamas. Certainly, the pit bull who “comes roaring bounding out, snarling, going for the throat,” every time the man let’s it out of its cage, is a reference to Hamas, as is his explicatory reference to the suicide bombings of the aughts (’00s).

This particular entry is clearly within a long and distinguished tradition of both political cartooning and animal parables, including George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Read in that manner, it is an incisive depiction of Hamas, whose numerous war crimes this summer, according to an Amnesty International Report (!), included killing both Israeli and Palestinian civilians in an indiscriminate manner. The deep irony embodied in Pessin’s image of Gaza as the cage, is that it’s not really the Israelis who built the cage, so much as the rabid dog who has taken Gazans hostage, hides behind them, uses them as human shields to fend off the Israeli effort to “put down” the rabid dog of “genocidal hatred.”

The “liberal” reader who, squeamish at a depiction of genocidal hatred denounced in no uncertain terms (pit bull), ends up behaving like the faculty at Connecticut College: they placate groups who scream injury when criticized, in order to shelter their own discourse of violence and hatred from the scrutiny it so richly deserves.

 

Lethal Journalism, Middle East Style

The practice of lethal journalism participates in the larger category of passing off war propaganda as news, has a long history, and a long future. Lethal journalists take the stories that belligerents create to demonize the enemy – especially the accusation of deliberately killing innocent civilians even children – and present them as news.

In the annals of the long history of running war propaganda as news, rarely if ever, have journalists consistently over an extended period of time, passed off enemy war propaganda as news. And yet that behavior, a kind of “own-goal journalism” marks the dominant school of journalism during the period of the opening years of the 21st century. And although it eventually spread far beyond the Middle East, that lethal reporting began and took shape in covering the conflict between Israel and her neighbors.

This peculiar combination of base war propaganda persistently repeated as news by a target of that propaganda – I’d like to call DuraJournalismBut throughout this essay, when I use the more generic “lethal journalism” I make reference to this eccentric Levantine phenomenon.

Identifying and redressing this problem seems like a high value goal, especially in the cause of strengthening a free (hence accurate) news media at a critical moment in the history of those modern nations, “so conceived and so dedicated.”

The key to this journalism is the delivery as news of an implicit (preferably explicit) accusation of deliberate killing – murdering children,targeting  civilians, or, in the words of the Goldstone Report, deliberately “punishing” civilians with “disproportionate” response, possibly constituting “crimes against humanity.” Lethal narratives constitute the basest form of war propaganda, especially when the stories are largely invented. It seeks to arouse hatred and a desire for revenge by convincing the target audience (recruits, observers), that the designated enemy deserves the violence you wish to visit on him.

The term “lethal journalism” designates the practice of those journalists who take a systematically credulous stance towards Arab lethal narratives about Israel, which they then pass on to us, their readers and listeners, as “news,” or at least, as perfectly believable claims about what has happened. Maintaining such a discourse necessitates playing fast and loose with evidence, ignoring and dismissing anomalous details, playing up dubious ones. It leaves a distinct Augean trail where it passes.

Since all wars have their lethal narratives, and all war-makers want to enlist journalists in spreading theirs, examples of lethal journalism can be found throughout the history of the press in war. Indeed, it’s an obvious need for democracies founded on peaceful relations, to have a press that can accurately identify false evidence, especially in the service of lethal narratives, and report on that war propaganda, rather than become an instrument of that propaganda. The fact that Western media have done so badly for over fifteen years, suggests the extent of the media’s “credibility crisis.” The most trusted news source – Fox! – 29%. Democracies cannot survive such dysfunctional relations between the news media and their public.

Iranian Porridge

obama feeding baby congress iran porridge by fatimafeeding baby GOP lrg POS

Lessons in Honor-Shame Politics: Kedar on the Zionist Camp

Mordechai Kedar, one of the most adept analysts of honor-shame culture, has a fascinating rant on the implications for war in the case the Israeli electorate chooses the “peace” candidates Yithak Herzog and Tzippy Livni. While I agree with almost everything he says, readers should not take this as an endorsement of Naftali Bennet and his Jewish Home (Kedar’s choice) or any other party. This is a major lesson in the dangers of the kind of liberal cognitive egocentrism that lead people to accept the PC Paradigms and reject the HSJParadigm.

The Arab world dreams of the day Herzog and Livni might

be at the helm of the Jewish state.

Published: Tuesday, March 10, 2015 11:20 AM

Written in Hebrew for Arutz Sheva, translated by Rochel Sylvetsky.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar is a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar Ilan University

Honest disclosure I: I have been acquainted with the Herzog family for decades, ever since I was a child, and at various points in my life I crossed paths with all three Herzog brothers, Joel,  Brigadier General (Res.) Michael and MK Yitzchak.  I have always held this aristocratic family in great esteem for their generosity, deportment, intelligence and erudition, as sons of Israel’s late sixth president Chaim Herzog and grandchildren of the late Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac Halevi  Herzog.  Ambassador Abba Eban, a significant political and cultural figure on his own, was their uncle. An aristocratic family in the deepest sense of the word.

Honest disclosure II: During the second half of the nineties, once I had finished my army service, I was active in the “Paths to Peace” organization, the younger and religious brother of “Peace Now”. I gave peace a chance the European way, but our Arab neighbors disappointed us.

Honest disclosure III:  At various times, I have suggested a Middle East peace plan for us and our neighbors, “The Eight Palestinian Emirates Plan”. I am openly against the establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, one that will without doubt turn into another Hamastan and lead inevitably to the next war.

Honest disclosure IV: I openly support the Jewish Home party’s list.

Let us start with the head of the Labor party, Yitzchak Herzog:

Years of research spent studying Arab discourse, media and culture – in the original Arabic – have led me to the incontrovertible conclusion that most of the Arab population hopes the day will come when Herzog is prime minister of Israel, for that day – at least according to the viewpoint of most Arabs   is the beginning of the end of the state of Israel .The reason is simple: Herzog is seen as a person of weak character, unimpressive and spineless. He did not serve as a combat officer and was, instead, an officer in my unit, 8200, which is made up of brilliant nerds with the obligatory round-framed eyeglasses.

Herzog’s gentle way of speaking and the unconfrontational terminology he uses, those that make him attractive to Israelis who want to think like Europeans and Americans, have convinced the Arab world that Herzog is the only way to soften Israel enough to step all over it and turn it into a dishrag that can be wrung into oblivion.

The Middle East’s agenda is set by stereotypes and images, and the image Herzog projects is so weak that any threats Israel might pronounce would be met with derision. The distance from that derision to all-out war is a short one.

In the Middle East, anyone who proclaims non-stop that he wants peace, projects the image of someone who is afraid of war because he is weak, thereby awakening the militaristic adrenaline glands of his neighbors, who then resemble nothing so much as eagles and vultures hovering over a dying cow.

And the opposite is just as true: anyone who radiates power, strength, threat and danger enjoys comparative tranquillity because the bullies leave him alone. This is the reason the Arabs hated and respected Ariel Sharon and Moshe Dayan – they were afraid of them. Sadat made peace with Israel because he could not defeat the Jewish state despite the surprise factor he had in opening the Yom Kippur War and his early success in crossing the Suez Canal.  Hussein also made peace with Israel, hoping it would use its power to help him face the Baath party of Syria and Iraq. Arafat agreed to a hudabiyya peace – that is, a temporary “peace” for as long as the enemy is too strong to defeat – after the failure of the first intifada.

Yitzchak Herzog at the helm of the government is the sweetest dream the Arab world can imagine, because it is proof that Israeli society is tired, exhausted, lacking the motivation to protect the country and ready to pay any price for a paper  that has the word “peace” written on it.  Herzog at the helm of the government will be subject to pressures from the Arab world – and from Obama’s White House – because he creates the impression that “this time it will work”, or shall I say, “Yes, we can”.

The pressures he will undergo will be much greater than those exerted on Netanyahu, because the White House and the Arab world will sense that his days as Prime Minister are numbered and therefore, they must make every effort to squeeze as much out of him as they can for the short period that Israelis will let him function before waking up to realize the imminent catastrophe and removing him from his seat as they did to Ehud Barak when he gave in to Arafat.

Yitzchak Herzog may bring about harmonious relations with the White House and perhaps even with the angst-consumed leaders of Europe, but he will bring a war of blood, fire and tears to the area called the Middle East where only those who are truly powerful, threatening and determined to deter their enemies survive.

Let us continue with MK Tzipi Livni, Herzog’s rotation partner in what the two self-titled “The Zionist Camp”:

Tzipi is the other aspect of the sweet dreams of the Arab world, a woman born and raised in a courageous Revisionist family, a home filled with healthy and strong Zionist principles. She began her political career in the Likud, but became more and more spineless, deteriorating from party to party, until she joined up with the other leading invertebrate, Yitzchak Herzog.

To the Arab world, Livni symbolizes and represents the dispirited and weary Israeli, those who have had enough of the struggle for survival and are willing to offer their necks to the slaughterer hoping that he will butcher them gently if they speak politely.

The internet tells us that in the eighties, Livni was actually a Mossad agent in Europe, and several Arab websites tell of the “special services” she did for the state of Israel.These services are understood in the West as undercover and secret, but in the Middle East the expression is interpreted in a totally different fashion. We can imagine how they will react on the web in the Arab world and what our image will be if she becomes prime minister.

However, the problem with Tzipi Livni is not just about her image, because in her case, our neighbors have proof that Livni hasn’t the foggiest idea of how to navigate the complex, thorny paths of the Middle East: she was Foreign Minister during the Second Lebanon War, and was the Israeli architect of Security Council Resolution 1701 that allowed the Hezbollah – already clear in the phrasing she espoused – to renew and enlarge its rocket arsenal. I would expect someone with a law degree to comprehend the built-in failure in the way the resolution was phrased, but Tzipi Livni did not even reach this minimal legal test. Is there anyone in his right mind who would hire her to prepare a contract for renting out his apartment?

What is strange is that instead of being ashamed and keeping her mouth shut, Livni even defended Resolution 1701 in public, strangely calling it a resolution that “created change in southern Lebanon”.


Only in Israel do the spineless have the nerve to ask the public for another chance to sit for the Middle East exam which they are sure to fail once again.
She is right about one thing. It surely did create change in southern Lebanon, but one that is bad for Israel. Instead of demilitarizing Hezbollah – which many countries agreed was necessary after the Second Lebanon War – this resolution allowed Hezbollah to rearm. Livni’s failure in phrasing the resolution and its implementation should have left her far away from any Israeli decision making positions, and certainly from those that have anything to do with our geopolitical reality.

In sum: Only in Israel do the spineless have the nerve to ask the public for another chance to sit for the Middle East exam which they are sure to fail once again. Only in Israel does the public’s collective memory go only as far back as the last television debate, the slogan heard yesterday and the latest spin a candidate spread this morning at the advice of his media consultants because it is popular and easy to recall.

Not one of the soul weary people – those who talk non-stop about “peace” – can deal in a suitable manner with the cruel and difficult  cultural environment in our neighborhood, one which, in the best case, will kick him in the rear as a warning before plunging a dagger into his neck.

The Herzog-Livni duo is the last thing I would recommend to lead the state of Israel, as long as we want to survive in the “New Middle East” – not the Shimon Peres fantasy world of that name, but the one where what is new is “Islamic State”. Perhaps, in the far-off future, when and if the surrounding cultural atmosphere turns into something like America or what it was once in Europe, we will be able to consider these two soul weary people as leaders of Israel.

However, while the Middle East looks the way it does and functions the way it does at present, there is no choice except to leave them nailed to their seats in the opposition consisting of other spineless “round eyeglasses” so they can raise shrill voices to criticize the nation’s leaders, while those leaders radiate power, strength and credible threats.

This is the bitter reality in which we attempt to survive. I am not the one who created it, and I bear no guilt for the situation we are in. I am just the messenger who is charged with explaining to my readers what not everyone understands about the culture in our neighborhood. It is a culture that only provides quiet and tranquility to the leader who succeeds in persuading his neighbors that he is invincible and that they had better leave him in peace for their own good.

Ths is an ongoing mission, especially since every once in a  while some “brilliant” figures appear, claiming to have just patented their invention of the wheel  and found the way to be accepted by our neighbors as a legitimate and welcome entity.

My advice? Learn Arabic.

Annals in Palestinian Media Protocols: Cristiano’s Letter to Arafat

A Polish translation of this post is available here.

While writing a talk for the EUSA, I had trouble finding the URL for Riccardo Cristiano’s letter to Yassir Arafat about the Ramallah Lynch. This critical document sheds a harsh light on the nature of journalistic work in the Middle East. So, for easier reference in the future, I post below the version available (with much effort) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, with additional comments of my own throughout.

The Government Press Office today (Wednesday), 18.10.2000, has decided to temporarily suspend the press card of Riccardo Cristiano, the representative of Italian state television (RAI), in the wake of his letter to the Palestinian Authority which was published in the Monday (16.10.2000) edition of Al Hayat al Jedida. Mr. Cristiano has also been summoned to the GPO where he will be requested to explain his letter.

In the aforementioned letter, Mr. Cristiano declared that he had acted according to the PA’s working rules for journalists. His letter implies that he will never again [would never -rl] film events which are liable to cast a negative light on the PA, such as the recent lynching of IDF reservists in Ramallah.

Mr. Cristiano also wrote that his competitors in the Italian media are responsible for broadcasting the pictures of the lynching and thereby accused other foreign journalists working in the territories.

The State of Israel, as a democratic society, welcomes the foreign journalists working here and invests considerable effort in both assuring freedom of the press and assisting journalists in their work. All that we ask from foreign journalists is that they abide by the rules of press ethics as is accepted in democratic societies.

Background

On October 12, 2000, two non-combatant Israeli reserve soldiers were lynched and brutally murdered by a Palestinian mob in Ramallah. Both were drivers, one aged 38 and the father of three, the other a 33 year-old newly-wed.

MIDEAST-ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN

Aziz Salha showing his bloody hands to the crowd outside.

Since this lynching, the official Palestinian broadcasting stations have made every effort to hide the horrible pictures which were shown around the world.

Actually, even as they tried to hide these images from the world, they have exalted them among their own people.

bloody hands girl

Kindergarten graduation ceremony, PA school.

Moreover, the day after the lynching, PA-appointed Sheikh Halabaya gave a blood-curdling sermon calling for genocide against the Jews and their friends the world over, broadcast on PA TV (and therefore captured by Palestinian Media Watch).

According to reporters’ evidence on the scene, not only did the Palestinian police not protect the two men slaughtered while in their custody in the Ramallah police station, but they also tried to prevent foreign journalists in the area around the building from filming the incident.

Here’s a brief description of the violence against Mark Seager, a pro-Palestinian photographer, published in the Sunday Telegraph of October 15, 2000:

I thought he was a soldier because I could see the remains of khaki trousers and boots. My God, I thought, they’ve killed this guy. He was dead, he must have been dead, but they were still beating him, madly, kicking his head. They were like animals.

They were just a few feet in front of me and I could see everything. Instinctively, I reached for my camera. I was composing the picture when I was punched in the face by a Palestinian. Another Palestinian pointed right at me shouting “no picture, no picture!”, while another guy hit me in the face and said “give me your film!”.

I tried to get the film out but they were all grabbing me and one guy just pulled the camera off me and smashed it to the floor. I knew I had lost the chance to take the photograph that would have made me famous and I had lost my favourite lens that I’d used all over the world, but I didn’t care. I was scared for my life.

At the same time, the guy that looked like a soldier was being beaten and the crowd was getting angrier and angrier, shouting “Allah akbar” – God is great. They were dragging the dead man around the street like a cat toying with a mouse. It was the most horrible thing that I have ever seen and I have reported from Congo, Kosovo, many bad places. In Kosovo, I saw Serbs beating an Albanian but it wasn’t like this. There was such hatred, such unbelievable hatred and anger distorting their faces.

The worst thing was that I realised the anger that they were directing at me was the same as that which they’d had toward the soldier before dragging him from the police station and killing him. Somehow I escaped and ran and ran not knowing where I was going. I never saw the other guy they killed, the one they threw out of the window.

In a subsequent email correspondance with Seager, he told me that right after the publication of this piece, a friend called him to tell him he was no longer safe in the Palestinian territories. According to reports, this was pervasive. Every journalist and film crew there was expected to hand over any film they might have taken.

Despite the attempts to distance reports, an Italian television crew managed to film several scenes [and smuggle them out -rl].

The following is an ad published in the Al Hayat Al Jadidah newspaper, considered the main newspaper of the Palestinian Authority. The ad, probably paid for, is evidence of the double standard which has come to characterize much of the reporting of the recent violence in the territories.

Note that the brutal lynching is described merely as “the events”.

Special Clarification by the Italian Representative of RAI, the Official Italian Television Station

My dear friends in Palestine. We congratulate you and think that it is our duty to put you in the picture of what happened on October 12 in Ramallah. One of the private Italian television stations which competes with us filmed the events; that station filmed the events. Afterwards Israeli Television broadcast the pictures, as taken from one of the Italian stations, and thus the public impression was created as if we took these pictures.

We emphasize to all of you that the events did not happen this way, because we always respect the journalistic procedures with the Palestinian Authority for work in Palestine and we are credible in our precise work.

We thank you for your trust, and you can be sure that this is not our way of acting. We would not do such a thing.

Please accept our dear blessings.

Signed,
Ricardo Christiano
Representative of RAI in the Palestinian Authority

Let’s take that again with commentary. Basically this is a letter meant to avoid any retaliation by the Palestinians for having violated the “journalistic procedures for work in the Palestinian territory.” It’s not us, it’s the other Italians,” Cristiano tells Arafat.